Kolkata: Indian Captain M S Dhoni during a press conference in Kolkata on Tuesday ahead of the WT20 matches. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra (PTI3_8_2016_000203B)
Kolkata: Indian Captain M S Dhoni during a press conference in Kolkata on Tuesday ahead of the WT20 matches. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra (PTI3_8_2016_000203B)

In modern cricket everything has become selective, including press conferences. Questions have to be selective and meet with the approval of the captain concerned. Is this the right way to play cricket and handle the media? V GANGADHAR finds out. 

Very soon, candidates from the Republican Party and the Democratic Party will face the most difficult part of their presidential campaign. Criss-crossing the nation, facing tough questions (good, bad, indifferent and even abusive) from the national media, they faced the last hurdle, the final party convention where the two chosen candidates will face the elite of the national and international media and answer questions. Next day, the media will analyse the media show and announce the verdict. Strangely enough the candidate who fared well at the final press meet may not be successful in the election.

This has become a major ritual in the US presidential election. From 1960, the final media grilling of the two candidates produced stunning results. In that year it was expected that the handsome new entrant to presidential politics John F Kennedy will win hands down. Against the old horse, Richard Nixon in a breathtaking close finish which no one expected. It was only because Nixon had enough experience handling the tricky Washington media but ultimately JFK squeaked through.

Press conferences are now increasingly exciting to watch, producing unexpected results; not only in politics but also other world events. Not only politics but in every major event, they are a widely anticipated event. Pretty girls with eye catching figures parading for the Miss Universe title answer tricky questions on solving major international problems using their beauty!

Sports are no exception, champions like ‘Usain Bolt have to answer tricky questions on what made them tick. Cricket cannot be exempt from this category and in cricket-hungry nations the IPL has led to all kinds of press conferences before, during and after the matches.

India where cricketers are next only to Gods make a big rituals of these press conferences. Captains like M S Dhoni make the best use of these for personal publicity. They make press conferences rare to arouse public interest The Indian captain adopts a pick and choose policy for answering questions and cleverly dodges inconvenient or dodgy questions. MS does not want to handle questions on his retirement. He does not answer questions, plays around them, asks counter questions and acts like ‘Artful Dodger’ in ‘Oliver Twist’. The media had to be satisfied with evasive answers, some of them pretty silly, but has to be answered.

Cricketers are hero worshipped to such levels that even if their answers are idiotic and plain silly, they are supposed to be full of bundles of wit and wisdom! Genuine wit and wisdom are rare. Phony wit abounds leading to laughter which has no meaning. The captain has his own favourites in the media crowd and reserves the ‘so-called’ witty questions to them. The crowd responds warmly and bursts out into inane laughter. “If R Ashwin is our best spinner, why was he used so sparingly in the match?” receives the answer could be, ‘He is a mature bowler, he has come in and do well at any time’. The press conference is packed with such inanities but who minds? The media digs, probes and grills for non-existent wit or common sense but there is none to be had. Like Dryden’s character Shadwell in “Mac Flecknoe”, Dhoni’s adoring disciples never deviate into wit!

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